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Starting an Offshore Fund

By Hannah M. Terhune, Esquire 2008,
Capital Management Services Group

Many countries are competing against each other to provide the best playing field from a legal standpoint for private investment (hedge) funds. For a new, low budget offshore fund, Anguilla or the British Virgin Islands and not the Cayman Islands may well be the best choice. While many countries have increased services to meet the rising need for offshore funds and companies, the lawyers, fund administrators, and accountants in the better-known countries have also increased their fees significantly in the past few years. There is increased use of offshore companies and offshore banking services to protect against identity theft and the loss of wealth due to the global decline of the U.S. dollar. Many are surprised to learn how easy it is to operate offshore.


Experienced investors are not as worried about where the fund is located as you may think. Funds tend to be formed in countries that are relatively interested in helping them set up (meaning that they have good laws and a good reputation as a country to associate with) and operate without a lot of initial and residual expense. Always remember that the domicile of the fund need not be the same as that of its administrator and custodian. In our experience with fund organizers, it is their inexperience with international business formations and bank regulatory matters that causes the most problems in terms of starting and launching the fund in a timely fashion.

For all the rave about the Cayman Islands, it is important to keep in mind that it was a blacklisted country until 2001, about the time when it hired a lobbyist and a public relations firm in the United States to delete the American perception that it was a hotbed of money laundering. In recent years, Cayman representatives have "visited" the SEC, the Senate Banking Committee and the Vice President to promote the image that it is a law-abiding, well-run version of "Delaware." However, it is home some very recent and high profile fund disasters and the 700 or so Enron secret companies. In short, it hosts as much financial crime as the next country.

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